JOBS at Worcester’s branch of Thomas Cook look like they could be saved after one of the firm’s rivals bought up all of its high street branches.

Travel provider Hays announced on October 9 that it would buy all 555 Thomas Cook stores and would look to re-open them with immediate effect.

Hays Travel has already employed 421 members of Thomas Cook staff since the travel group went out of business last month.

The company now intends to reopen the shops immediately, potentially saving up to 2,500 further jobs, as well as promising to create another 100 jobs at its Sunderland headquarters.

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Founder John Hays said: “It is a game-changer for us, almost trebling the number of shops we have and doubling our workforce - and for the industry, which will get to keep some of its most talented people. We are looking forward to welcoming many more people who share our passion for the travel industry, into our family business.”

The 178-year-old Thomas Cook folded on September 23 after failing to secure a last-minute rescue deal, leaving around 150,000 passengers stranded abroad, the last of whom were returned to the UK on Monday.

Jim Tucker, partner at financial firm KPMG, said: “This is an extremely positive outcome, and we are delighted to have secured this agreement.

“It provides re-employment opportunities for a significant number of former Thomas Cook employees, and secures the future of retail sites up and down the UK high street.

“We are pleased to have achieved this in a short timeframe and in the context of a complex liquidation process, which is testament to a lot of hard work from a number of parties.”

Hays was founded in County Durham 40 years ago and reached £1 billion in sales last year.